Wednesday 24 November 2021

The Epping Ongar Light Fantastic is steaming in to save Christmas.

 Let this be a reminder that Christmas wishes do come true. Years ago, when I was a wee baby intern for Secret London, and not the jaded, grizzled veteran I am now, I wrote about all the wonderful things other cities had, and posited the idea of nicking some of them to improve London. It seems fate has been surprisingly bounteous with her gifts, as we’ve now got our own version of Chicago’s Holiday Train (which I had earmarked to jazz up Christmas transport), in the form of the Epping Ongar Light Fantastic[Featured image: Epping Ongar Railway]

The Epping Ongar railway is one of London’s true hidden gems; tucked up beyond the end of the Central line, it’s London’s very own working steam railway, and boasts one of the only abandoned Tube stations that still welcomes trains. Families and transport fans alike can hop aboard their vintage trains for a joyous ride from Epping to Ongar, under the power of one of the line’s four steam engines or multitude of diesel engines. It’s an excellent day out, and between November 19 and January 9, 2022, things are going to be gleefully, luminously festive.

‘Twas a new addition for 2020, and Epping Ongar Light Fantastic saw the heritage trains bedecked in a plentiful array of Christmas lights, turning the classic engines into brightly-coloured blurs speeding through the night. Seriously, if the North Pole had a steam line, I reckon it would look a lot like this. The railway is promising a display of lights and music, with a specially designed show that highlights their stations, woodlands, and rural setting, with plenty of cute illuminated displays set up in the fields and woods surrounding the line.

Over the course of your one-hour trip, they’re promising to “melt your heart” with enchanting illuminations, and I for one am extremely ready for it. Trips will depart twice or three times a day from now until January 10, and the trains will be pulled either by steam or diesel engines (you can choose which when you book – unsurprisingly the steam engine slots are filling up quickest). Tickets will set you back £20, but due to social distancing rules and a reduced capacity, you can only book in groups of two, four, or six. They’re going quickly, too, so pick them up here if you’d like to climb aboard this magical Christmas express!

Find the Epping Ongar Railway at Station Approach, Chipping Ongar, Ongar, CM5 9BN. More info here.